The charming Austrian capital is situated on the River Danube and is a world-renowned centre for classical music, art, theatre and history. Home of the waltz, the Spanish Riding School, Sachertorte and Vienna Boys’ Choir, its central core is easily manageable by foot but excellent public transport is also available. The Schönbrunn Palace is the summer residence of Maria Theresia and the Hapsburgs and is one of the most iconic buildings in this great city.
Before 1806, Vienna was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire and later it became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, in 1918, the capital of independent Austria which emerged from World War I as a republic. During WWII, Vienna was divided into five zones, but the 1955 State Treaty helped the country regain its independence and Vienna was once again the capital of a sovereign Austria.
The riverside village of Durnstein sits on the banks of the River Danube, in the heart of the Wachau wine region. It is perhaps most famous for its hilltop ruin of Kunringer Castle, where Richard the Lionheart is said to have been held prisoner in 1192 by Duke Leopold V. Durnstein is also home to a number of old burgher houses, wine taverns, and 16th and 18th century townhouses. There is also an ornate blue and white-coloured Baroque church, which sits by the riverside and resembles and giant pepper pot.
Situated in northeast Austria is the city of Melk – regarded as a gateway to the famous Wachau wine region. It is located at a meeting point of the Danube and Melk rivers and is home to a towering, yellow, baroque Abbey, which sits high above the Danube River. Inside the Abbey, you will find many interesting features including the Melk Cross, Abbey Library, Marble Room, and Collegiate Church. Elsewhere in the city, you will find a number of pretty Renaissance houses and the Schallaburg Castle.
The Austrian city of Linz sits on the banks of the Danube River, 100 miles west of Vienna. It is home to a number of historic buildings and landmarks including: the old castle; St. Martin’s Church; the Baroque Town Hall; the 13th century main square, which features a monument to the Holy Trinity; and the 17th century cathedral. More recently, Linz has developed into an important cultural centre, with a number of schools of art music; several museums; art galleries; libraries; opera houses; and theatres. Additionally, Linz provides a point of access from which to visit the city of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.
Resting at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers in Bavaria is the town of Passau. Lying on the border of Austria, Passau offers a unique and eclectic blend of German and Austria Baroque architecture. St Stephen’s Cathedral is the main focus for tourism in Passau and is a true masterpiece of Italian Baroque. The main attractions of the cathedral include a treasury, museum, Italian painted frescoes and the biggest European church organ, boasting 17,774 pipes.
Situated along the banks of the Danube River is the Bavarian city of Regensburg. A cultural centre of Germany, the cities medieval heart is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting one of the most important Gothic churches in Bavaria, St. Peter’s Cathedral. With a stunning 14th century stained glass window and two Romanesque chapels, St. Peter’s in one of the main attractions in Regensburg. Full of history, the city also offers other notable examples of Romanesque architecture, including the Porta Praetoria, which dates back to 179 AD. Despite the repeated bombings of WW2, Regensburg’s medieval buildings and charm has survived, and sustained little damage.
Located on the Pegnitz River is the second largest city of Bavaria and incredibly energetic city of Nuremberg. Emerging from the uplands of Franconia, Nuremberg is also close to the Main-Danube Canal. With official records dating back to 1050 this incredible city has a very long history, unfortunately only a handful of historic buildings survived the damage of WW2. The most significant remaining building is the Church of St. Sebald, a breathtaking example of gothic and renaissance master craft. As well as museums, a Renaissance city hall, and customs house, there is an imperial castle towering above them all.